OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
May 27, 2004
MOERMAN - PARCEL DEVIATION - FRONTAGE - 9855 ALMENA DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-20-155-025)
SKY KING MEADOWS PUD - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - EAST SIDE OF SOUTH 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF SEECO DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-380-010)
WEST POINT CONDOMINIUMS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AMENDMENT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - NORTH 10TH STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-13-125-001 THROUGH 3905-13-125-115)
A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, May 27, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
MEMBER ABSENT: James Turcott
Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 25 other interested persons.
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m.
The Chairperson called for approval of the Agenda. Ms. Stefforia asked if the Chicken Coop site could be added to the Agenda under "Other Business". Mr. Schley moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
The Chairperson called for consideration of the minutes of the meeting of May 13, 2004. Ms. Everett noted that on page 5, the name of Mike Bullock needs to be changed to Mike Olech. Ms. Everett then made a motion to approve the minutes as corrected. The motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.
MOERMAN - PARCEL DEVIATION - FRONTAGE - 9855 ALMENA DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-20-155-025)
The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the consideration of a request from Larry and Sandra Moerman for a parcel deviation to allow a parcel with only 100 feet of frontage to be buildable as a single-family residence. The subject property is located at 9855 Almena Drive and is Parcel No. 3905-20-155-025, which is in the "RR" Rural Residential District. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department .
Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Planning Commission dated May 27, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein.
Ms. Bugge explained to the Planning Commission that Larry and Sandra Moerman were seeking a deviation to allow a nonconforming parcel to be buildable. She said the parcel is located at 9855 Almena Drive within the "RR" Rural Residential District. She said that the application was being presented to the Planning Commission pursuant to Section 66.203.
Ms. Bugge told the Commission that the applicants wished to purchase the subject property from Gary and Taray Kaser to construct a single-family home. She noted that the parcel contained approximately eight acres and met the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio; however, the property only had 100 feet of frontage when 200 feet is required to meet the dimensional requirements for parcels.
Ms. Bugge noted for the Commission and those in attendance that Section 66.203 allows a deviation from parcel dimensional requirements if the parcel meets the minimum criteria for platted lots when the spirit of the dimensional criteria provisions are still observed, and public health, safety and welfare are secured. She said that the text was adopted with the intent to reduce the need for existing nonconforming parcels to be platted in order to be buildable.
Ms. Bugge then reviewed the criteria for granting the deviation, which she said required that the parcel be established prior to March 31, 1997, and not be considered lawful nonconforming. The parcel also had to satisfy the minimum dimensional requirements for platted lots under Section 66.201. The third criteria was whether the dimensions of neighboring lawfully nonconforming properties would support the deviation, and lastly, whether or not a 66-foot right-of-way for ingress and egress would be required for interior lands.
Ms. Bugge said that the parcel was not lawfully nonconforming as it was created after 1965. She said that the subject parcel was well in excess of the square foot requirements for the "RR" Rural Residential and that the property is 111 feet wide at the building setback. Therefore, the minimal dimensional requirements for a lot were satisfied.
Ms. Bugge then directed the Commission to an overhead showing that there was one legally nonconforming parcel in the vicinity of the subject parcel, and all other parcels in the area were conforming, with regard to frontage. She did note that Homestead Estates located on South 2nd Street had 100-foot-wide lots, and therefore, she did not believe this lot was unusual for this area. Ms. Bugge also said that she saw no reason to require a 66-foot easement for ingress and egress since any further development taking place on the property would require construction of a road for access purposes.
The Chairperson asked how the parcel was created without meeting the frontage requirements. Ms. Bugge explained that, prior to 1997, properties could be split without prior Township approval.
The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions of Ms. Bugge. Hearing none, the Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Moerman said he and his wife currently owned property on Oshtemo Terrace, and they had purchased the subject property solely for the purpose of constructing their personal residence. He said he was not sure where they would locate the home, but they would be seeking professional help to evaluate site location. He said he did not want to intrude on his neighbors, but he and his wife wanted additional elbow room for themselves. He told the Commission that he thought the lot would be ruined if it were platted and additional homes were built. He asked if there were any questions.
Hearing none, the Chairperson called for further public comment. Mr. Joseph Kirkbride told the Commission that he lived at 9898 KL Avenue, just southeast of the subject property. He said that he had quite a few questions about what the applicant would be doing with the property. He explained he did not want to see the woods interfered with, and to be quite frank, he did not really care to see the property built upon.
Mr. Kirkbride asked if the property had been rezoned from AG to Residential. The Chairperson indicated that the property was currently zoned "RR" Rural Residential. Mr. Kirkbride then asked if it was fair for other property owners in the area to have 200 feet of frontage and not require this parcel to have the same amount of frontage.
The Chairperson asked if there were any further public comments.
Ms. Angela Graham said she owned a small parcel nearby. She asked for clarification and inquired of the Board as to whether or not the applicant could put in a road and further subdivide the property. The Commission indicated that her understanding was correct. Ms. Graham said, given the concept of constructing only one single-family home on the property versus multiple houses, she was delighted, and was very much in support of the Moermans' proposal; she welcomed the Moermans to the neighborhood.
Mr. Kaser told the Commission that he owned the subject property and had known for a number of years that the neighbors did not want to see the property platted. He said, given the Moerman's proposal, he thought that this was the best use of the property and encouraged the Commission to approve the deviation.
Ms. Sandy Moerman asked to address the Commission. She explained to the Commission and to those in attendance that she and her husband were great bird lovers and would not be removing any trees but likely adding many trees to the property.
The Chairperson called for further public comment, and hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting. The Chairperson called for questions and comments of the Commission.
The Chairperson asked if there was any other means of access to this property other than the 100-foot of frontage off Almena Drive. Ms. Bugge indicated that there was no other means of access.
Mr. Ahrens asked, if the property was sold to another party, and they wanted to develop more than a single-family home on the property, if the matter would have to come back before the Planning Commission. Ms. Bugge indicated that to build more that one single-family home would require installation of a road and further review and approval by the Commission.
Mr. Schley said he thought the property was extremely beautiful and did not believe there was a less intrusive method of developing the property than a single- family home. Therefore, Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the deviation request to allow the parcel to be buildable pursuant to Section 66.203 of the Zoning Ordinance, given that the parcel was established prior to March 31, 1997, was not considered lawful nonconforming, satisfied the minimal dimensional requirements of Section 66.201, and the dimensions of neighboring properties supported the deviation. Mr. Ahrens supported the motion. The Chairperson called for further public comment, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
SKY KING MEADOWS PUD - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - EAST SIDE OF SOUTH 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF SEECO DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-380-010)
The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the agenda was the consideration of the special exception use and site plan review for Sky King Meadows PUD. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Commission dated May 27, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.
Ms. Stefforia explained that the applicant, Mike Seelye, on behalf of Seeco 2, LLC, was requesting a special exception use and site plan review for the planned unit development for Sky King Meadows. She said that the property was located off of 9th Street, south of Seeco Drive, and located in the "R-2" Residence District classification.
Ms. Stefforia said that the applicant was proposing a PUD, utilizing both residential and nonresidential land uses. She reminded the Commission that it had conducted conceptual review of the proposed project on February 26, 2004. She said that the biggest change since the initial presentation was the phasing of the residential development. She explained that the applicant was phasing the residential development in order to avoid construction of a center turn lane on 9th Street, the full length of the project, which would not be required until Lexy Lane was established as part of Phase 2 of the project. She said Phase 1 would consist of the development of the first 40 residential lots. Phase 2 would consist of the development of the southern 26 lots, and the commercial development would take place as Phase 3 once 60% of the residential homes in the PUD had been completed.
Ms. Stefforia told the Commission that the cul-de-sacs for the three north/south streets would be temporary until such time as Lexy Lane was completed. She said the Road Commission had approved the proposed phasing and the temporary cul-de-sacs. She said that the 66 single-family condominiums would cover approximately 25 acres, and the remaining 7 acres would be dedicated to non-residential use. Ms. Stefforia told the Commission that the Focus Area Plan only called for two intersections on 9th Street between KL and West Main, which currently exist at Seeco and Buckham Highland Drives. However, she noted that during conceptual review, the Planning Commission had indicated that the two new intersections were acceptable given that Lexy Lane would serve interior lands and keep traffic away from the commercial activities to the north and from the residential development within the PUD.
Ms. Stefforia told the Commission that the applicant was taking advantage of the 10% reduction allowed in the PUD so that 46 of the 66 lots would be reduced in size to a minimum of 9,504 square feet, and the remaining 20 lots would meet the 10,560 square foot minimum. Ms. Stefforia then pointed to the open space and retention areas which would serve the PUD.
Ms. Stefforia next went on to explain the review criteria provided for under Section 60.450, highlighting the need for a bike path and sidewalks within the development. Ms. Stefforia noted that the Commission needed the information required by Section 60.470D and 82.800, specifically with regard to the phasing of the project and the necessary easements and deed restrictions to the open space during Phase 1 development. Lastly, Ms. Stefforia reviewed each of the general criteria of Section 82.800, noting that the driveway to the nonresidential area off of Mickey's Trail would be located as far south as physically possible in order to try to satisfy, to the greatest extent possible, the 200-foot separation requirement from 9th Street.
Ms. Stefforia emphasized the need of the Planning Commission to discuss signage and lighting for the PUD and suggested not more than two commercial signs, not to exceed 8 feet in height and 60 square feet in area each. She also recommended that the nonresidential area be limited to light poles not in excess of 15 feet and 175-watt bulbs in the manner consistent with Section 78.720(b)(1).
Ms. Stefforia then strongly emphasized the need to have the site stabilized at all times. She said this was to be done throughout the development of the project.
Ms. Stefforia asked that the Commission address what screening would be required from abutting properties. She recommended landscaping around the entire perimeter and internally as would be required of other commercial properties.
Ms. Stefforia noted that the site should allow for emergency vehicular accessability She also said that the plans would be subject to the Township Engineer's review and approval.
Lastly, Ms. Stefforia reviewed Section 60.100 dealing with the special exception use criteria.
The Chairperson asked if there were any questions for Ms. Stefforia. Mr Ahrens asked if there would be any access onto 9th Street for the commercial businesses. Ms. Stefforia said there would not be any direct access and that the commercial development would have to access off Mickey's Trail or Lexy Lane or possibly Belle Street. Mr. Ahrens inquired as to whether or not the Commission should address that issue at the time it approved the PUD. Ms. Stefforia said yes.
Ms. Garland-Rike asked if this PUD was still being reviewed by the engineers. Ms. Stefforia indicated that it was.
The Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant. Dan Lewis of Prein & Newhof introduced himself to the Commission. He presented in the form of an overhead, the storm water calculations and explained how the retention area had been reconfigured to give it a more gradual slope and softer look. He explained that it met all of the requirements for a 100-year storm plus 2-foot of freeboard. He said that the storm water drainage would then be connected, via an overflow pipe, to the open space and wetland areas on the southern part of the property. He thought this provided a very good plan for storm water retention which would insure that the water would flow away from any of the residential homes in the area.
Ms. Garland-Rike inquired about the appearance of the pond and stated that the Commission had asked that it have a natural appearance. Mr. Lewis said that he understood their desires, but they had to excavate deep enough to get to good soils which would provide adequate drainage. He said they also tried to minimize the amount of land that they would use, and yet in doing so, tried to make the retention area curved and not rectangular in shape.
Ms. Everett asked if the retention basin would have to be fenced. Mr. Lewis said that he was not sure if it would be fenced or landscaped. He said that the retention area was built on a 1-to-5 slope, pursuant to the Drain Commissioner requirements, and as a private drainage basin, it did not have to be fenced. He said, as a private drainage basin, it could be built on a 1-to-3 slope, but it would have to be fenced.
Mr. Ahrens inquired abut the 50-foot buffer requirement around the retention basin. Mr. Lewis then reviewed the overhead plans with Mr. Ahrens and the Commission to show that the buffer requirements were met.
Mr. Schley asked why the applicant could not make a commitment as to whether or not the pond would be fenced or landscaped. Mr. Lewis said they were leaning toward landscaping. Mr. Schley explained that the Commission did not want a large hole in the ground but wanted to see a more natural appearance to the retention area and would like to see it landscaped. Ms. Bugge indicated that, if it was fenced, it would have to be landscaped. The Chairperson also noted that, as part of granting the PUD, the Commission had the right to request the landscaping.
Mike Seelye stepped to the microphone and told the Commission that he hoped the Commission would allow them to naturally landscape the retention area and that he did not want to put a fence around the retention pond. The Chairperson and various other Commissioners told Mr. Seelye that was their preference as well.
Mr. Ahrens asked which ordinance would control the residential or non-residential requirements for landscaping. Ms Stefforia said that it was a PUD, and it would have to be established pursuant to that process. The Chairperson asked how much landscaping then would be required. Ms. Stefforia said that it was up to the Commission and asked that the Commission determine what it believed was adequate. She suggested that a landscape architect be hired and that the developer present a plan to the Planning Department for review and approval.
Mr. Larson asked if the Commission wanted the drainage basin invisible from the road. Mr. Seelye said he was not sure that he wanted to landscape it to that extent, but he certainly did not want it to look like a stark leaching basin. He said he would be satisfied with having Staff review and approve the landscaping requirements. Mr. Schley said that he did not believe that full screening was required, but he did want to see it landscaped. Ms. Everett said that she wanted it to have a natural look.
Mr. Larson then asked if the Commission wanted it landscaped to the water line, and noted that he did not want to have a straight line of trees surrounding the retention basin but wanted it to appear as a natural body of water. Ms. Garland-Rike said she realized that as the commercial property developed, people would not see much of the landscaping from 9th Street, but that the residential home owners in the area certainly would. Mr. Seelye said he was not sure he wanted to provide plantings all the way to waters edge of the retention basin because he is afraid that it would become overcrowded.
Mr. Seelye then asked what the requirements were for a PUD. Ms. Stefforia said she believed it was whatever was reasonable and established by the Planning Commission. Ms. Garland-Rike said that it would have to be addressed in the motion.
Mr. Seelye told the Commission that phasing of the development would depend on the economy. However, he expected that Phase 1 would be completed in approximately three years and that Phase 2 would commence sometime in 2007, and that the commercial development would begin as soon as permitted. Mr. Schley said that the applicant would have to meet the 60% build-out requirement before he could commence with the commercial development. Mr. Seelye said that he understood.
Mr. Schley asked Mr. Seelye about the bike trail and sidewalks. Mr. Seelye said they were providing affordable housing, and he was concerned that the cost of sidewalks would have a negative impact on his development. He said that they would agree to install a bike path, provided it tied into some other pedestrian walkway.
Ms. Everett asked what it would cost to install sidewalk on a 80-foot lot. Mr. Ahrens said between $850 and $1,000. The Chairperson said he was concerned about pedestrian traffic in the interior of the development and did not want to see access to the commercial property off Belle Street. Ms. Garland-Rike also noted that, when Lexy Lane was completed, there would be a tremendous increase in traffic in the area, both commercial and residential, and thought there would be a need for sidewalks. Mr. Lewis told the Planning Commission that commercial access would be off Mickey Trail and Lexy Lane, and not from Belle Street.
The Chairperson told the applicant that he understood the need for affordable housing but thought affordable housing would increase the likelihood that people would walk to and from local stores and bus routes, and therefore, believed that sidewalks were even a greater necessity.
Mr. Seelye asked if Buckham Highlands had been required to install sidewalks. Ms. Stefforia indicated they had not but they had included walking trails within the development. Mr. Seelye asked if he would be required to install sidewalks currently. Ms. Stefforia indicated that the new Ordinance provisions now required the installation of sidewalks and bike paths. Mr. Seelye inquired as to whether that would require a sidewalk on one or both sides of the street. Ms. Stefforia indicated that it would require sidewalks on both sides of the street. Ms. Everett asked Mr. Ahrens if, in developing his lot, it had a positive or negative effect on development. Mr. Ahrens said he could not be sure, but he had seen a greater number of sales in 2004 than they had seen in 2003, and thought it was a positive selling point for his development.
Ms. Everett said that she thought that the Planning Commission had wanted to see sidewalks and bike paths in the Township and that it had to start somewhere. She noted that the Township Board was also in support of this type of pedestrian infrastructure and she did not believe that the Planning Commission could do anything different than what they had provided for in the Ordinance. Mr. Schley said that he thought it not only made sense for this development, but for the future development which would take place east of the proposed PUD.
The Chairperson asked if the applicant understood their desire to maintain stabilization of the subject property. Mr. Seelye indicated that he did. Ms. Garland-Rike said she did not want to see any more dirt excavated than was absolutely necessary beyond Phase 1 of the development.
The Chairperson asked if there were any other questions of the applicant, and hearing none, opened the public portion of the meeting. There being no public comments, the Chairperson asked that the Commission review the criteria set forth in Section 60.450 of the Zoning Ordinance. The Chairperson asked if there were any particular issues which the Planning Commissioners believed needed to be discussed further.
Ms. Everett asked when the bike path is proposed to be installed. Mr. Seelye said it would be installed at the time that the commercial property was developed. The Planning Commission then proceeded to review the criteria set forth in Ms. Stefforia's memo of May 27, 2004. The specific criteria on pages 3 through 7 were reviewed, and Chairperson called for comments on the same. Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the commercial signs being proposed were a bit large. Ms. Stefforia said the sign size was what the Zoning Ordinance allowed for offices in the "R-3" District.
Ms. Everett asked if the commercial development would be allowed to place signs along 9th Street, even though they would not be allowed to have driveway access onto 9th Street. Ms. Stefforia indicated they would. She also noted that she would like to see the Planning Commission address what type of commercial signage would be allowed so that future Planning Commissioners would understand their thinking at the time the PUD was approved, since commercial development would not take place for a number of years. Mr. Larson said he thought it was important to consider the matter at the present time, since it would affect the residential development.
Ms. Garland-Rike asked if each business would have a free-standing sign. Ms. Stefforia indicated that she did not believe the Commission should allow each business a free-standing sign, and that is why she made a recommendation that they consider establishing the type of signage which should be allowed. Ms. Stefforia recommended signage for the nonresidential area be limited to one or two monument signs, not to exceed 8 feet in height or 60 square feet in area. Ms. Stefforia said she did not believe that the signs were all that large, given that they would be monument-style signs. Mr. Schley said that he did not have any problem with two signs for the noncommercial area, given the speed along 9th Street. He felt that, at car scale, signs were warranted. Mr. Larson thought that perhaps one sign would be adequate. Mr. Schley said that was possibly true, but he could live with a two-sign limitation. Mr. Ahrens said, with two different access points, he thought that it was appropriate to have two signs for the nonresidential property. Ms. Bugge noted that the signs would not necessarily have to located at the drive, to which Mr. Ahrens indicated that they did not have to be, but they would likely be placed close to the entry points for the development.
The Chairperson asked what the feelings of the Commission members were with regard to lighting. Ms. Garland-Rike said that a lot of people in the area did not want to see glare from commercial businesses, and she thought it was very important that the Commission keep this in mind in setting the light limitations.
Ms. Garland-Rike noted that she wanted to restrict earth-moving to Phase 1, except for filling in a small area in the south of the property. Mr. Ahrens said he did not believe that the Planning Commission could be quite so restrictive because of the need to access other areas on site to develop Phase 1 of the development. Ms. Garland-Rike said that she thought generally they should restrict their earth-moving to Phase 1, with the exception of those items that needed to be done to complete Phase 1.
There was a general discussion regarding screening and landscaping on the property. Hearing no additional comments, the Chairperson asked that the Commission review the special exception use criteria of Section 60.100 as set forth on page 8 of Ms. Stefforia's memo. The Chairperson called for further discussion, and hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion with regard to the grant or denial of the special exception use permit.
Ms. Garland-Rike made a motion to approve the special exception use for the PUD for Sky King Meadows, since it met all of the criteria of Section 60.100; it was compatible with the uses expressly permitted in the "R-2" District; it would not be detrimental or injurious to the use or the development of the adjacent properties; it would promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community; and it would encourage the use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability. Ms. Garland-Rike said this was subject to Phase 1 commencing in 2004, Phase 2 commencing in 2007, and the nonresidential development commencing in accordance with applicable ordinances. Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for public comment on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Garland-Rike then made a motion to approve the site plan, provided that:
(1) Phase 1 commence in 2004, phase 2 commence in 2007, and that the noncommercial property be developed in accordance with the Zoning Ordinance.
(2) There be no direct access for the nonresidential property to 9th Street.
(3) Easements and deed restrictions relating to the open space be provided and reviewed by Staff and Township Attorney.
(4) The Master Deed and Bylaws be provided for review by Staff and Township Attorney.
(5) The driveway from Mickey's Trail to the nonresidential area satisfy the 200- foot separation requirement from 9th Street intersection as much as physically possible, and be subject to review and approval when a site plan for the area is proposed in the future.
(6) Sidewalks be required on both sides of the street within the residential portion of the development and be established in accordance with Township Ordinance requirements.
(7) A bike path, designed pursuant to Township Ordinance, be incorporated into the third phase of the development when the nonresidential property was developed.
(8) Setback requirements applicable to property zoned "C", Local Business District, shall be applied to improvements established in the nonresidential area.
(9) The nonresidential area be limited to two monument signs not to exceed a height of 8 feet and an area of 60 square feet each.
(10) Pole lighting in the nonresidential area not exceed 15 feet in height nor 175 watts in power. The free-standing lights utilized in the non-residential area not exceed the limitations set forth in Section 78.720 (b) (1).
(11) All other outdoor lighting provisions of Section 78.720 be complied with.
(12) Earthmoving be restricted to Phase 1 of the development and that necessary to develop the temporary cul-de-sacs, utilities, drainage pipes and secondary drainage area provided within the development as well as those areas needing to be filled.
(13) The site plan review and approval by the Planning Commission be required before any use of the nonresidential areas is made, other than grading as necessary for site balancing within the overall development.
(14) All areas of the PUD awaiting development are to be stabilized at all times, and that this should be accomplished with grasses or other ground cover, with the exception granted for lots with an active building permit which shall satisfy the Township's Erosion Control and Sedimentation Control Ordinance.
(15) The landscaping of the nonresidential area is to occur when site plan approval is granted for that area. At a minimum, the Planning Commission shall require that the property be landscaped in accordance with requirements that would be imposed on a "C" zoned property.
(16) The non-fenced stormwater retention area be landscaped in a naturalized fashion from the berm down the bank of the pond, subject to review and approval by the Township Planning Department.
(17) A deviation is granted to allow 46 single-family lots to utilize the 10% reduction in area.
(18) Site plan is subject to review and approval by the Township Engineer.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Ahrens. The Chairperson asked for further comments from the Planning Commission, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
WEST POINT CONDOMINIUMS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AMENDMENT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - NORTH 10TH STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-13-125-001 THROUGH 3905-13-125-115)
The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the agenda was the consideration of special exception use amendment and site plan review for West Point Condominiums. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Commission dated May 27, 2004, and the supplement thereto dated May 28, 2004, and the same are incorporated herein by reference.
Ms. Bugge noted that Gordy Bruinsma, of the Granger Group, was the applicant. The subject property was the West Point Condominiums on North 10th Street. She said the property consists of approximately 30 acres zoned "R-3" Residence District. She said the special exception use and site plan was for a proposed amendment to the West Point Condominium development to replace 58 residential units with nine 10,000 square foot office buildings.
Ms. Bugge explained that the proposal had been tabled by the Planning Commission on January 22nd, 2004, when the applicant had been requested to return with a more detailed plan for consideration. She said the primary changes to the revised plan included topography, a reduction of a number of lighting fixtures and a new design for cross-access to the south parcel. She noted the location for the new cross- access point, as well as the proposed location for the emergency access point for the Township Fire Department. Ms. Bugge said that the applicant had originally received special exception use and site plan approval for 114 residential condominiums contained in 30 buildings on October 16, 2000. She said, to date, only three buildings with 12 dwelling units and a portion of the private drives and other infrastructure had been built. She said the new proposal would reduce the total building area by approximately 27,000 square feet, and due to parking lots, open space would be decreased by 12%. She said the existing access drive from 10th Street would be used, as well as cross-access to the West Point Office Center.
With regard to traffic generation, Ms. Bugge noted that changing the plan from 58 dwelling units to 9 office buildings would result in a net increase of approximately 186 trips per day, but that it should have a minor impact on the capacity on 10th Street. Further she noted that the traffic to the office buildings would be heading in the opposite direction, north in the morning and south in the evening, from that of residential traffic. She added that weekend traffic would reduced by approximately 580 trips per day. Ms. Bugge then took the Commission through the special exception use criteria of Section 60.100 and noted that the use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted within the zoning district, but the proposed heights of the subject structures exceeded the 25-foot limitations provided for in Section 23.404. She said that the proposed building height of 27 feet would require a variance.
She asked the Commission whether the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use of development of adjacent properties or to the general neighborhood. She noted that the property was bounded by U.S. 131 on the east and was adjacent to the West Point Office Center to the south, and to the west and north were single-family homes or property zoned for residential development. She did note that 60% percent of the property would remain in open space. She also suggested the Commissioners consider if "C" landscaping was sufficient to the north between the adjacent residential property and the office portions of the development. She noted Type C greenspace was proposed along the perimeter, except those areas adjacent to the highway where Type B landscaping would be required. She noted that a detailed landscaping plan meeting all Township criteria would have to be provided for Staff review and approval following the Planning Commission's determination of what was required.
Ms. Bugge then asked if the proposed use would promote public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community. She did point out that the existing driveway on 10th Street would be used as well as the cross-access to the south. She noted that no buildings would have direct access to 10th Street, and that all building setbacks and separation requirements would comply with the Zoning Ordinance. She said the site had public sewer and water, and that storm water would be managed on site. She noted that the site plan would be subject to review and approval by the Township Engineer and Fire Department. Ms. Bugge made a specific note of the need for subdued lighting for the proposed office development. She pointed out that the applicant had significantly reduced their external lighting,both in height and number of poles to be installed, as well as overall wattage of the lighting fixtures. She said in certain cases, shields would have to be installed to fully comply with Township lighting requirements.
Ms. Bugge asked if the proposed use would encourage the use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability. She said the Planning Commission should consider parking lot layout, circulation and internal site design, as well as open space, vegetation retention and landscaping proposals, in addition to restrictions on the project's lighting.
Ms. Bugge then directed the Commissioners' attention to the special exception use criteria of Section 23.404 for regarding office buildings. Ms. Bugge noted that the subject site did not currently comply with the previous plan approved, and that she had seen no improvement on the property since January. Ms. Bugge again noted the need for a variance and/or reduction in the height of the proposed buildings. Ms. Bugge then completed her review of Section 23.404 for the Planning Commission.
Next, Ms. Bugge reviewed Section 82.800 of the Ordinance dealing with site plan review. Ms. Bugge reviewed access and parking and made recommendations regarding the same as set forth in her report.
Ms. Bugge then reviewed the site layout and landscaping for the proposed site with various recommendations in her report. Ms. Bugge's recommendations specifically dealt with the failure to maintain the site or comply with the previously approved site plan, including dead and dying trees, ponds not leaching appropriately, as well as a lack of stabilization of the overall site.
After Ms. Bugge completed the review of the site plan provisions of Section 82.800, the Chairperson asked if there were any questions of the Planning Department. Ms. Garland-Rike asked how many office buildings and residential structures were now being proposed. Ms. Bugge said there would be 15 residential buildings and 9 office buildings upon completion of the development. Ms. Bugge then pointed out that phasing was still a question which needed to be addressed. Ms. Bugge also pointed out that the Commission had the right to require performance guarantees, if necessary, to insure the completion of the project. Hearing no further questions of the Planning Department, the Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant.
Mr. Harry Wieringa of Fleis &Vandenbrink introduced himself to the Commission, and said that he and other members of the Granger Group were present to answer questions of the Commission. Mr. Wieringa complimented the Staff on a thorough report. He explained to the Planning Commission that, when the initial proposal was made, there were only going to be residential buildings, but that had changed over the years due to economic conditions. Mr. Wieringa then proceeded to explain to the Commission what they had done to try to address some of the concerns regarding the project since its conception in 2000. Mr. Wieringa said they had tried to stabilize the pond area, however, the DEQ initially wanted all of the dead trees and material to be left on site for animal habitation, but in light of Staff review, he understood now that changes would have to be made. He also said that they were planning on addressing the retention area by draining the ponds, if necessary, removing silt and loosening the bottoms to enhance drainage. In addition, he said that French drains might be added, if necessary. He also said that he understood that the landscaping had to be restored, and the property stabilized. In addition, he said that they would be doing a tree count and removing any dead trees and replacing them with new growth. They also asked the Planning Commission to consider the new landscaping plan they were proposing, which he thought was extensive and would greatly enhance the site.
Mr. Wieringa explained, with the aid of new plan, how they would be developing the project in two phases. Phase 1 would consist of construction of the residential buildings to the south, as well as 4 new office buildings on the southern part of the subject property. He said they would start the residential buildings first, and once they had two of those completed, they would likely commence construction of the southern office buildings. Mr. Wieringa thought that the project would be a substantial improvement, and it would look much better than what was currently on site. Mr. Wieringa asked if anyone had any questions.
The Chairperson asked the applicant if they believed that the office buildings would be better for the development than residential. Mr. Wieringa indicated that he thought that it would, especially along U.S. 131. Ms. Garland-Rike asked what the time-line would be for development. Mr. Wieringa said that the critical issues, particularly the site stabilization and landscaping, including site grading, correction of the ponds by excavation and/or loosening of the bottom soils, as well as stabilization of the area in the next 60 days. He said the residential buildings started at the south would commence in the winter of 2004-05, and the office structures would start within two years. Attorney Porter raised a question with regard to commencement of the office structures within two years, since under the Ordinance, there was a requirement to commence within one year. Ms. Bugge pointed out that the office structures and the residential buildings were a part of a single condominium development. Attorney Porter said that it was unclear from the developer's plan that the residential structures were going to be part of Phase 1 development. Ms. Bugge indicated that she thought that should be corrected on the site plan. Mr. Wieringa said that Phase 2 would commence in five years.
Ms. Garland-Rike said that starting the landscaping would be a good beginning. The Chairperson asked for clarification on what Mr. Wieringa was going to complete in the next 60 days. Mr. Wieringa said they would do the site clean-up, regrading, remove the silt from the ponds, stabilize the entire area, remove all dead material and replace it with new plantings, basically rectifying the conditions which were currently substandard on the site. The Chairperson asked why the DEQ wanted the dead material left on site. Mr. Wieringa said the DEQ wanted it there for a habitat for snakes and birds, but they would revisit that with the DEQ and inform them that they would have to remove the dead material.
The Chairperson asked why the applicant wanted to have their buildings 27 feet in height. Mr. Wieringa said he wanted to do so in order to maintain consistency with the office development to the south. He said they would very much like to continue using the same building, and it would allow for maintaining the same back lot configuration. Ms. Bugge again pointed out that a variance would be needed, but that they had granted a variance for the buildings to the south.
Ms. Garland-Rike said she had raised concern regarding height at the last meeting, and it had simply had not been addressed. She said the finding that the development met all criteria of Section 23.404, except height, failed to recognize the intent of that section of the Ordinance. Ms. Garland-Rike specifically referred to Section 23.100 of the Ordinance, which indicated that the district was to be designed to be transitional between 2 different zoning classifications. She said she believed this meant a gradual change from one zone to another and that they would be compatible with the residential uses in the surrounding area. She said that most of the single-family homes in the area were a single story, which was not compatible with the 27 -foot structures proposed. She said she thought that there was a way they could make it work, but this did not fit in with her concept of an appropriate transition between office and residential development. Mr. Wieringa said he thought the reference to transitional was more a reference to uses, not architectural styles or size of the structures. He said he thought it was transitional in that it was moving from the highway to office use, to multi-family residential use, to single-family residential use. He said, in that way, it was transitional in nature.
Ms. Everett said that she did not disagree with Ms. Garland-Rike, but it was a fact that there was an office development immediately to the south, and this would provide for some continuity between that type of development. She also felt it might to better to develop the office buildings adjacent to the highway to provide some type of buffer to the residences abutting 10th Street.
Ms. Everett told the applicant that she hoped that they understood the Commission's desire to minimize tearing up an entire site. She said it was this specific site which caused the Planning Commission to revise its criteria to require site stabilization. She said she also wanted to see the subject site cleaned up for those that live near the property. Ms. Everett said the Planning Commission had to be assured of what was going to happen before they proceeded, due to the fact that the site currently was not in compliance with the last site plan approval. Mr. Schley said that the perceptions of the Planning Commission were certainly not favorable, due to the way the site was originally developed and the lack of maintenance and care paid to the site over the last three to four years. He said, with regard to compatibility, he thought a person had to take into consideration that you could have a two-story home in a residential plat, as well as a one-story home, and that the Township really did not have architectural control standards within its Ordinance. He thought that should not be a significant impediment to moving forward with the proposal. However, he said he understood the need to have assurances from the developer before they moved ahead with the project due to the fact the site was not currently in compliance with the previously approved site plan.
Mr. Ahrens suggested that the applicant be provided with a repair period to fix the site plan or lose their approval by the Planning Commission. Ms. Everett pointed out that did not fix the site as it currently existed. Mr. Ahrens questioned whether the Planning Commission was there to take care of the past problems. Mr. Schley said he agreed with Mr. Ahrens.
Mr. Wieringa said that they understand that no building permits would be issued unless the preliminary work was done. Mr. Schley asked Ms. Bugge why the applicant had been given building permits and why the Township had not taken any enforcement action. Ms. Bugge said that the permits had been issued, based on the applicant's good faith representations that the developers were going to actively pursue bringing the site into compliance. She said she was dismayed that nothing had been done since January to improve the landscaping on site or correct the problems with site stabilization since that time. Ms. Bugge again pointed out that the Commission could require a financial guarantee of the applicant or table it until June or July and require the applicant to make the site improvements as a demonstration of their intent to proceed forward. She said they could also withhold the Certificates of Occupancy until all of the landscaping and site improvements had been made.
Mr. Larson asked what types of permits had been granted to the applicant. Ms. Bugge said they were permits to finish the interior of the existing residential condominium dwellings. However, no Certificates of Occupancy had been issued.
Mr. Larson said he would like to see the site restored and stabilized before they proceeded further. He thought it was important that the ponds be functioning and that the dead trees be removed before the Commission went any further. Mr. Larson asked the Mr. Wieringa how long it would take them to complete the site improvements that he was proposing. Mr. Wieringa said he thought it would take them approximately 60 days. Mr. Larson asked what it was going to cost to complete the site improvements. Mr. Wieringa said that the applicant had already spent about $20,000 on site, and that it would take approximately $20,000 more to complete the necessary upgrades.
Mr. Schley asked if they had the right to table this matter, or whether they were exceeding their authority. Attorney Porter said he thought it was appropriate that the Commission table the matter until the site improvements were made, since they were a part of the previous site plan approval, and that the problem was a result of not complying with the previous site plan.
Mr. Wieringa asked if they could at least get an agreement on the special exception use and let them post bond so they could move forward with the knowledge that their special exception use permit would be granted. The Chairperson explained to him that this simply could not be approved because the special exception use was dependent upon the site plan. Ms. Stefforia concurred in that conclusion. Mr. Wieringa asked if they could obtain a straw vote as to whether or not the special exception use permit would be approved. The Chairperson said he did not believe that was appropriate and that he thought the applicant had a good understanding of what the Commissioners' feelings were with regard to the project, but that the failure to comply with the previous site plan requirements was the current sticking point.
Mr. Schley asked what the applicant had been doing between January and May, and why they had not done anything to the site. Mr. Wieringa said the Granger was putting a new set of players into place and that they were looking for a good real estate firm for marketing purposes and were now ready to move forward. Ms. Bugge pointed out that they had met with some representatives of the Granger Group in March who submitted a list of necessary corrections to the site in February, but that nothing had been done to the site. Mr. Barnes of the Granger Group apologized to the Planning Commission and told them that they wanted to show the Planning Commission what changes they could make to the site in the next 60 days. Mr. Larson made a motion to table the matter until their meeting of July 22, 2004, in order to allow the applicant to clean up the site, regrade it as necessary, remove the silt from the retention basin, stabilize all areas of the site, remove all dead vegetation and replace it with new growth, as proposed by the applicant.
Ms. Everett asked what would happen if they did not complete the improvements. Ms. Stefforia indicated that they would simply deny their application. Mr. Ahrens expressed concern that they would be basing their denial not upon the criteria of the Ordinance, but as a method of enforcement. Attorney Porter said he understood Mr. Ahrens' concerns and wanted to clarify that the Commission would not be denying the special exception use permit as a method of enforcement, but that they would refuse to take action on the application because the site was not currently in compliance with the previous site plan approved in 2000. He said he thought the Planning Commission was justified in not moving ahead on the amendment to the site plan until such time as the areas of noncompliance were remedied.
The Chairperson said, with that clarification, was there any support for the motion. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the Chairperson asked for public comment.
Bonnie Banghart said she wanted to thank the Planning Commission for holding the line on this matter and addressing the concerns of the neighbors in the area.
Jan Long said she was concerned about maintenance and upkeep and just restoring dead vegetation if it was not maintained, would be of little use. She asked that the Planning Commission require a plan for upkeep. Mr. Barnes told the Commission that Granger had worked out an agreement with Gardner Management, and that they had maintenance guidelines in place which should address the issues raised by the public and the Planning Commission.
The Chairperson asked if there was any further comment, and hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Stefforia said that, given the hour, she would withdraw her request for review of the Chicken Coop matter.
Planning Commissioner Comments
There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m.
OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary
June 4, 2004